1) WHAT REBBI ELAZAR LEARNS FROM THE VERSE OF "V'LO YIZBACHU"
QUESTION: Rebbi Elazar inquires about the source for the law that one is liable for serving Avodah Zarah when he sacrifices an animal to Markulis. He answers that the verse states, "They will no longer sacrifice (Lo Yizbachu) their sacrifices to the demons" (Vayikra 17:7). The verse seems superfluous, as there is already a verse (Devarim 12:30) that teaches that any normal manner of serving an idol constitutes a transgression of Avodah Zarah. Since the verse of "Lo Yizbachu" is not needed to teach that any normal manner of serving Avodah Zarah is forbidden, it must be teaching that one is liable even for an unusual manner of serving Avodah Zarah. An example of an unusual manner of serving Avodah Zarah is one who sacrifices an animal to Markulis.
Rebbi Elazar seems to ignore the verse discussed in the previous Gemara (60b). The Gemara quotes a Beraisa which derives from the verse, "One who sacrifices to the gods (Zove'ach la'Elohim) will be killed; only to Hash-m [may one offer sacrifices]" (Shemos 22:19), that one who slaughters, burns, or pours things to Avodah Zarah is liable. Why does Rebbi Elazar need another verse ("Lo Yizbachu") to teach that one who sacrifices an animal to Markulis is liable?
(a) TOFSOS (DH Minayin) answers that the verses essentially teach the same thing. However, they are not repetitive, because the rule is that whenever the Torah prescribes a punishment of death for a transgression, the Torah also teaches an "Azharah" -- a "warning" against committing the act. Accordingly, one verse expresses the Azharah, and the other verse expresses the punishment. Rebbi Elazar is quoting the Azharah. He agrees that the other verse is the punishment. This is also the explanation of the RITVA in Avodah Zarah (51a).
(b) The RASHBA in Avodah Zarah (51a) gives a different answer. The verse of "Zove'ach la'Elohim" prohibits one from worshipping any other god by sacrificing animals, burning objects, and the like. However, what is the law if a person is merely angry at Hash-m and wants to make Hash-m "angry" by sacrificing to other gods? He is not really interested in serving the other god, and he does not even believe in the other god. He merely acts "l'Hach'is," "to anger" Hash-m. (Indeed, the Gemara here concludes that Rebbi Elazar is discussing such a case.) The act of such a person does not seem to be included in the prohibition of "Zove'ach la'Elohim" since he does not sacrifice "to the god." Rebbi Elazar therefore says that the verse of "Lo Yizbachu" prohibits such an act. That verse prohibits any form of inappropriate slaughter. This is apparent from the fact that the prohibition against slaughtering a Korban outside of the Beis ha'Mikdash is also derived from this verse. The Rashba says that such a person is not Chayav Misah, but rather he is Chayav Malkus. (Y. MONTROSE)
2) ONE WHO WORSHIPS AVODAH ZARAH OUT OF LOVE AND FEAR
OPINIONS: The Gemara records a dispute between Rava and Abaye with regard to a person who worships Avodah Zarah "out of love and out of fear." Abaye says that such a person is Chayav Misah, since he worshipped Avodah Zarah, an act punishable with death. Rava says that he is exempt until he actually accepts the Avodah Zarah as his god.
What is the case of one who worships "out of love and out of fear"?
(a) RASHI (DH me'Ahavah umi'Yir'ah) explains that he worships out of love for, or fear of, another person. He has no intent to accept the Avodah Zarah as his god.
TOSFOS (DH Rava) seems to understand the case similarly, and he asks the following question. In the Gemara later (74a), Rava says that one must give up his life in order not to transgress the sin of worshipping Avodah Zarah. If, in the Gemara here, Rava maintains that a person is not liable for the sin of Avodah Zarah if he worships it merely out of fear of another person, then why does Rava say later that he must give up his life in order not to serve Avodah Zarah?
Tosfos answers that the Gemara here discusses the question of whether a person is Chayav Misah for choosing to serve Avodah Zarah over being killed, and Rava says that he is not Chayav Misah. In the Gemara later, Rava says that a person must give up his life l'Chatchilah and not serve Avodah Zarah even out of fear. It is clear that Rava maintains that the person still transgresses the prohibition against Avodah Zarah, but he is not punished with death if he chooses not to give up his life in such a situation.
(b) The RAMBAN does not accept that Abaye would rule that such a person is put to death. The Halachah that one must give up his life and not transgress Avodah Zarah does not imply that a person who does sin is put to death by Beis Din. The Ramban therefore explains that "me'Ahavah umi'Yir'ah" means that he is scared that he will suffer financial harm if he does not serve the Avodah Zarah. Abaye says that he is Chayav Misah, while Rava maintains that he is not Chayav Misah as long as Beis Din knows that he did not sincerely accept the Avodah Zarah as his god.
(c) The RAN quotes RABEINU DAVID who gives a different explanation, although he understands "me'Ahavah umi'Yir'ah" like Rashi. Rava agrees that if a person is given an ultimatum to serve Avodah Zarah and verbally accept it as his god or to be killed, if he chooses to serve Avodah Zarah he is Chayav Misah, even though he served Avodah Zarah under duress. Rava argues with Abaye in a case in which the person did only a standard form of service, such as slaughtering an animal for the Avodah Zarah, under threat of death without a verbal acceptance of the Avodah Zarah as his god. Abaye says that since one is Chayav for such an act under normal conditions (when he is not forced), he is also Chayav Misah if he does it under the threat of death. Rava says that the only reason why a person is Chayav Misah under normal conditions is that it is assumed that he worshipped the Avodah Zarah because he accepted it as a god. If it is clear that he did not accept the Avodah Zarah as a god, he is not Chayav Misah. Since, in this case, it is clear that he sacrificed the animal to the Avodah Zarah only under duress, it is assumed that he did not accept the Avodah Zarah as a god, unless he stated otherwise. This is why Rava says that "if he accepts the Avodah Zarah as a god, he is Chayav, and if not, he is not [Chayav]."
(d) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Avodah Zarah 3:6) explains "me'Ahavah umi'Yir'ah" in a third way. He says that "me'Ahavah" refers to a person who worships Avodah Zarah because he feels a strong attachment to the beautifully crafted statue, and "mi'Yir'ah" refers to a person who worships Avodah Zarah because he is afraid that the statue will hurt him if he does not serve it. The KESEF MISHNEH understands that the Rambam was bothered by the same question as the Ramban (in (b) above) on the explanation of Rashi, and thus he defined "me'Ahavah umi'Yir'ah" differently. (See Kesef Mishneh there for other explanations of the Rambam.)
The Ran says that the Rambam's words seem to aptly describe an ordinary case of one who worships Avodah Zarah, but not Avodah Zarah worshipped under duress. After all, when any person sacrifices an animal to a demon, he does so because he does not want the demon to hurt him, and this is certainly an act of Avodah Zarah! He therefore disagrees with the Rambam's explanation. The RIVASH (cited by the Kesef Mishneh) says that most of the commentators do not agree with the Rambam because of this reason. He explains that most idolaters think that there is an all- powerful G-d, but they also feel that they need to worship their Avodah Zarah in order to prevent him from becoming upset with them and punishing them. According to the Rambam's explanation of Rava, those idolaters are not Chayav Misah at all. (Y. MONTROSE)